What is a Keepsake?

Throughout our lives we all gather and collect things that have meaning to us. That first photograph of our newborn, a rose bought by our first love & pressed between the pages of a bible, a train ticket from a special journey. But why do we hold onto them?

This is where the seeds of my vision for Forget me Not Memory Furniture began.

When I moved out of my childhood home I recall my mum giving me a box with items from my childhood. Things that she had held onto as i was growing up. There were my vaccination certificates, my old school exercise books, my first comic and lots of other bits that she had lovingly stored but ultimately were mine. That box went with me across the sea to the Isle of Man then back again 5 years later & 3 house moves later the box is still in my loft. Those of you that have seen Mamma Mia will recall Meryl Streep singing ‘Slipping through my fingers’ Does this sound familiar?

As far back in history as ancient Roman times there is evidence of remembrance jewelry, using bones & teeth. During the Renaissance mourning rings which were paid for as part of the deceased  estate. Rings were commissioned with their names & D.O.D. Prior to the 17th Century it was known as memento-mori jewelry, a reminder of mortality rather than in memory of an individual. The peak of popularity until recently was in the Victorian Era when Queen Victoria began wearing items of Jet following the death of her Husband Albert, also lockets containing his picture & camoes of him. In the mid 17 hundreds wig makers would fashion rings, pins, bracelets etc from locks of hair. 

Image by GordonMcDowell

In the early 20th Century the industry fell out of fashion making a brief comeback in the 30s & 40s. The  rise in Cremation rates in the past 20 years has seen the popularity of jewelry incorporating ashes . Who 20 years ago would have envisaged having something made that held our loved ones ashes? Today many thousands of us do. The advancement of technology means fingerprints and even photos can be engraved onto jewelry too.

Thumbprints are a perfect way to keep tangible mementos. Today we use our thumbprints increasingly in everyday life. Opening apps, phones etc so what better way to hold onto something so unique than to use it. I have a cast of  my Dads which I was able to take whilst he was on end of life care at the local Hospice.This enabled me to have a silver charm made which I wear daily. I also had a necklace  made for my mum and my niece. It is very precious to me with this in mind I offer a thumbprint kit as part of my service (contact me for details!)

Families can have imprints of their loved ones hidden within a piece of furniture they have refinished thereby keeping them close and creating new history. The beauty of this is that you can do this both whilst you have you loved, but also before they are inturned (after which sadly this wouldn’t  be an option.) 

Many find comfort in other forms of keepsakes  such as using ashes to make beautiful jewelry, and again I offer this as an option. Encased in resin then placed  within  a wooden button, ashes can be hidden or placed as a feature in a bedside table of a lost partner or in grannies old china cabinet for example along with her favourite gin. The ashes would be dispatched in the kit  provided  with your furniture, thereby no risk of them being lost in the post. 

In my memory box I also have the last Christmas cards I received from my Mum & Dad with their signatures, newspaper clippings & tons of photos. Bet we all have those don’t we? Wouldn’t it be lovely to see those turned into new keepsakes….

 I’ve recently decoupaged a newspaper from the day my dad was born in 1942 to the legs of a footstool belonging to my Dads Great Gran. Signatures can be scanned and engraved too. The stools a mini time capsule with a lace hankie of my great Aunts, some crystal beads of my Great Grans  favourite necklace & my Mums ashes in a button. 

Decoupaging photos and fabric is also a touching way of incorporating sentiment. Much the same way as Memory Bears have become popular I aim to offer the option to have for example Mums favourite silk scarf lining a set of draws that may sit neatly in your kitchen or hallway refinished in a stylish colour to match your decor. New handles maybe added to bring it up to date but the heart of it remains Mums. I’ve even used old family photos to repurpose old drawers into wall shelves . You may not wish or have room to keep a whole item of furniture but these make a fitting tribute as well as an exclusive addition to your home and family History. Something to tell the grandchildren about. 

Sentiment and the holding onto memories is in our nature & culture. We like to think that those who came before us will be remembered by those who will come after us. So just as we keep the first teeth  of our babies or have our bridal bouquets dried and mounted in frames my aim is to raise awareness of MEMORY FURNITURE.

 We live in a throw away society  but sustainability & sentiment are a fusion in my opinion. If you Google Memory Furniture see what currently pops up-Memory foam beds! If you google Memorial Furniture outdoor benches are the result. MEMORY FURNITURE isn’t a ‘thing’, just as Memory Bears weren’t a thing 15 years ago. Watch out World. MEMORY FURNITURE is now MY THING. For more details and enquiries I can be contacted on 07876 022343.

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